Film / Exorcist II: The Heretic

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Exorcist II: The Heretic is a 1977 supernatural horror film and the first sequel to The Exorcist. It was directed by John Boorman.

Father Lamont (Richard Burton), about to lose his faith in God, is persuaded by the Vatican to investigate the death of Father Merrin (Max von Sydow, who appears in flashbacks) during the exorcism of Regan (Linda Blair) four years earlier. His quest leads to Regan herself, who has no recollection of her demonic possession but is plagued by nightmares. Upon observation, Lamont is convinced that Regan is a faith healer and explains why she might have been possessed in the first place. Lamont then visits Africa to meet Kokumo (James Earl Jones), another victim of possession, who helps explain what attracts evil towards good and good towards evil.

All of this is explained in one of the trippiest and most bizarre films ever put to celluloid.


This film provides examples of:

  • Fake Shemp: A weird example - Linda Blair only accepted to return if she didn't have to go through the make-up again. Thus whenever possessed Regan appears, it's a stand-in.
  • Forgotten Fallen Friend: Father Damien Karas, the hero of the original who saved Regan by sacrificing himself, is never mentioned by name, only being referenced as one of the three who died.
  • Genre Shift: It's difficult to say exactly what genre this film falls under, but it most definitely isn't horror.
  • Hall of Mirrors: Dr. Tuskin's psychiatric institute appears to have been built with "put as many reflective surfaces as possible!" as its motto.
  • Informed Ability: Regan's artistic talent, especially her laughably bad drawing of Father Lamont.
  • Kill It with Fire: The fates of the possessed girl in the opening sequence and Sharon.
  • Large Ham: Weirdly enough, Richard Burton underacts as aggressively as he overacts in some scenes.
  • Lighter and Softer: Compared to the first film. Especially when you realize that John Boorman and the producers considered its predecessor exploitative and negative (one could question why Warner Bros. executives didn't see this as a bad omen).
  • A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Read: Dr. Tuskin decides to try a mind-reading gizmo on Regan. It all goes downhill from there.
  • Mind Screw: The whole friggin' movie.
  • Missing Mom: Adding to Howard MacNeil being absent from Regan's life, now so is Chris, who Regan says is 'away all the time'.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Linda Blair goes She Is All Grown Up in this movie.
  • One-Woman Wail: 'Regan's Theme'.
  • Posthumous Character: One of the storylines regards figuring out how Father Merrin died.
  • Psychic Powers: Regan has them. Other than that spoon-bending trick she fakes Sharon out with at the beginning of the picture.
  • Re-Cut: The original rough cut of the movie was three hours long. Amongst the scenes which were deleted from the final version there was a special effects sequence of the African church being destroyed by the demon.
    • Shortly after its premiere, John Boorman went back to re-cut the film in response to poor audience reactions, although this version fared no better. Boorman shortened and changed the order of certain scenes, deleted lines of dialogue, changed some musical cues, and added an introduction with narration by Richard Burton.

      Boorman also cut all footage of Burton after his character, Father Martin, fights Regan's doppelganger, cutting immediately to the end credits after Regan walks out of the rubble of the townhouse. This gives audiences the impression that Father Martin dies during the climax. The only other significant change of the recut ending is that Sharon's death is not shown, leaving the viewer presuming that she survived at the end of the film. The major plot, though, is not significantly different between the two versions of the film.
  • Scenery Porn: The sets and mattes are amazing to look at.
  • She Is All Grown Up: My, how little Regan has grown. Most of the movie has her in some form of revealing clothing. And then there's the tap dancing scene.
  • The Swarm: Locusts are a recurring appearance.
  • Title Drop: Kokumo says to Father Lamont 'You're a Heretic.'

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